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A Closer Look At The Second Half Of Duke-Kentucky

No game is perfect but this was perfect enough.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 09 Champions Classic - Duke v Kentucky
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Duke Blue Devils forward Theo John (12) during the Champions Classic college basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 9, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City,NY.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

  • 19:54: It’s clear that Oscar Tshiebwe is still learning the game but he runs a beautiful pick and roll here. And even though all of Kentucky’s other frontcourt players grew up playing the game - assume a decade’s worth - he’s still the smartest.
  • 19:34: Paolo Banchero starts to drive on Keion Brooks as Tshiebwe ever so briefly looks away. Fatal. Easy money.
  • 19:19: Tshiebwe screens Trevor Keels and immediately cuts behind Mark Williams for his second early basket of the half. Williams nearly picks off the high pass though. It’s impossible not to like Tshiebwe.
  • 19:00: Moore shoots from near the Duke bench. It’s a shot he could and will hit but not this time and there’s no one in rebounding position for Duke. Sahvir Wheeler tries for Tshiebwe on the break but he’s not ready for the pass.
  • 18:47: There are mistakes and subtleties that coaches see that we will never see. And Keels is way, way ahead of schedule. He’s really smart. But not here. If he had passed left to Jeremy Roach, Roach would have hit Moore in the corner. UK defense was off balance. Instead he gets hit with a charge.
  • 18:12: Keels gets Washington and you can nearly see his eyes light up. Williams screens him and watch - rather than charging into the lane like he did a minute ago he comes in slowly, totally under control. Note too that UK has total control of the lane for a rebound.
  • 18:01: All five Duke players are running back on D. Only two are looking back - the All-Paul backcourt. We bet Paul VI coach Glenn Farello noticed that.
  • 17:43: That whole Wendell-Moore-is-different-now theme is punctuated right here. Slam Jam Bam, baby! Dick can’t do it right now so we thought we’d help out. Inexplicably, UK’s Kellan Grady steps out instead of in, allowing Moore an open path. Cal is probably tearing his hair out at this point.
  • 17:00: All-Paul break as Roach gets it to Keels, who blows by two UK defenders for the layup.
  • 16:40: This is really cool. AJ Griffin is behind due to his injury. Watch where he starts on this play and still nearly gets the block. If Jon Scheyer is coach-in-waiting then Griffin is monster-in-waiting. This is also where the cramping starts for Moore.
  • 16:19: Keels misses here but watch him take it straight at The Machine, aka Tshiebwe, right into the heart of Kentucky’s defense. Davion Mintz follows him but can’t stop him. This guy is a freshman. So impressive. John fouls The Machine and he struts. It’s pretty funny in slo-mo. Banchero is getting his cramps worked on here. Kentucky is up 48-47.
  • 15:56: Wheeler tries to drive on John but Keels strips him. Roach drives on Tshiebwe and scores.
  • 15:35: Looks like an airball but Keels also may have gotten a piece of Washington’s shot. He’s a promising guard but Kentucky’s backcourt is really small. After the shot, watch Keels. He reads it’s short and that Moore is going to get the board so he’s gone! Easy basket. Note too that Griffin is heading in. We like his instincts. Beautiful pass by Moore here.
  • 15:20: Griffin gets in a UK sandwich between Washington and Brooks and disrupts, forcing a turnover. TyTy is a freshman. Brooks is a junior who dribbled into trouble. This is actually a really impressive play by Griffin. Cal immediately subs Mintz in for Washington.
  • 15:06: Somewhat similar situation but John passes out of the double-team to Griffin for a layup. Two big plays for him to build on.
  • 14:37: Moore shoots, cramps and falls and immediately calls to be taken out. Duke is up 53-48.
  • 14:16: Washington again learns that it’s not easy to score on bigger guards. Toppin gets the board and again shoots an off-balance shot. Someone please help him with this. The Machine gets #3.
  • 14:02: Keels takes it in like Bo Jackson! Mintz can’t stop him and doesn’t really try but does foul. 55-48 Duke.
  • 13:42: He had a great game! Could Chet Holmgren look any more glum?
  • 13:32: Washington is going to be good but he’s not strong enough to handle Keels as he puts Duke up 57-50.
  • 13:23: Washington tries to drive on Griffin and shoots a clunker. Griffin gets the board and on the other end Keels finds John for an easy basket. It’s his game now. Duke is expanding the lead despite not having Banchero and Moore on the floor. Get a TO, baby! Just focus on getting better Dick. We got this for you.
  • 12:46: Griffin is going to grade really well when they look at the video.
  • 12:33: Having experienced players is nice as John just abuses Ware who, again, shows a lack of fundamentals. This is what will likely doom Kentucky’s season.
  • 11:37: somehow Keels’ cramps didn’t really get mentioned.
  • 11:23: Roach does his Isaiah Thomas impression. This is a tremendous drive.
  • 10:07: This is Banchero starting to relax.
  • 9:26: This is Banchero understanding know one in this gym can guard him. Well, maybe RJ Barrett but that’ll have to wait until next year. Busted a double team. Brooks is having a miserable time.
  • 8:43: Roach dribbles into a triple team. Meanwhile, Baker calls for the ball all alone. UK scores after and a scowling Coach K calls time.
  • 7:53: Banchero didn’t go hard after this board. He may hear about it.
  • 7:40: Tshiebwe heads in to get another rebound. UK could have had Kofi Cockburne out of the portal. You can see why they passed. The Machine is much more promising.
  • 7:13: Looking a lot like Kal Drogo, John drives from the top of the key against Tshiebwe. He misses, but it was kind of cool anyway. Craftsman should sign him for some NIL flair.
  • 6:58: Wheeler dishes to Tshiebwe for the power dunk. Banchero was closing but not fast enough. 69-62.
  • 6:32: We’re not big fans of pushing and shoving. However, you have to be a bull to push Tshiebwe off his feet.
  • 6:13: Tshiebwe is exactly the kind of guy who can give Williams trouble. 69-65. In Florida, Dick Vitale is ripping the port out.
  • 5:37: Wheeler meets Williams at the rim. Williams is 13 inches taller. Bad plan on Wheeler’s part. But look! He just tips the ball in the air and pulls it down. That’s a great blocked shot.
  • 5:22: Toppin can’t control Banchero. He’s the right age and we bet he’s heard this before: Sir Toppem Hat, that ruthless capitalist swine from Thomas the Tank Engine who works engines into the ground before selling them for scrap. Some guy from Sandy will figure it out and torment him all over again. Maybe he can sell the ref on a micro aggression. That’s a T baby!
  • 4:52: Keels time all over as #1 has a tremendously controlled drive.
  • 4:34: Again: Wheeler, 5-9. Williams 7-0. Williams takes a minute to remind Wheeler of this after he blocks his shot off the backboard and into the hands of Roach.
  • 4:27: Banchero to the rim partly because Toppin, again, is out of position. Bonus #1: Calipari complaining. Bonus #2: a nice shot of RJ Barrett saying “dammmmn.” 74-65. UK threat recedes.
  • 3:56: Williams: Want some more? Wheeler: Pass. Ref: up-and-down on Thsiebwe.
  • 3:22: Wheeler has some game but there’s just no way around 5-9 as Keels just backs him and has his way.
  • 2:22: Wheeler is on the break where a little man should have an advantage. But Keels says no! And knocks the ball into the hands of Banchero. For some symmetry, Wheeler then knocks Banchero and gets the foul. Good thing this isn’t Cameron a few years ago. He’d be hearing “Webster!” all night long.
  • 1:55: It just clicked: Tshiebwe is wearing #34, just like Hakeem Olajuwon. And that seems right. Perhaps our favorite Kentucky player of all time.
  • 1:12: We love him but UK doesn’t need him shooting from the perimeter. That said, who got the rebound? The Machine got the rebound. Of course he did.
  • 1:07: Mark Williams sees Wheeler getting ready to shoot and says oh hell no. Seriously, look at him - he’s ready to FedEx it back to Lexington. I TOLD you to keep that mess out of here! But Wheeler pulls up from a safe distance. It appears he has learned a lesson.
  • 44.5: Moore drives and Toppin...jumps away from him to block? Maybe Zion Williamson could do that. No way Toppin can. After the shot Moore has a little 0 to 0 time with Toppin.
  • 21.8: Wheeler is spooked now. He tries to pass but now Williams is just messing with him. My lane!